Monday, June 13, 2016

Flag Retirement and the Environment

I have seen a flag retirement ceremony for US Flags that are no longer a fitting emblem.

It involved saluting the flag and placing it in a fire. It was done with care and respect by young boys and teens. It was touching and fitting.

An American Legion ceremony script. reminds us:

“A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for a free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy."

The flag is the symbol of our nation and worthy of respect.

Our environment is also worthy of respect. So, here's the thing. Flags are not always made of natural gauze or silk anymore. Many are made from polyester, nylon, or arcrylic. These materials are toxic when burned. During combustion, nylon releases polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen cyanide among other pollutants.

The US Flag Code, part of our national law code since 1923, says:

"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

Preferably by burning. As long as the ceremony is dignified and due respect is shone, other options are acceptable.

Recycling nylon flags is one option. This not only eliminates the production of toxins by burning but reduces the amount of petroleum -based products used.

Perhaps we could revise the code to allow for proper burial in a special coffin,

Really any method of destruction can be made dignified and respectful with the proper ceremony.

Of course, we can continue to retire flags made of natural fibers by burning.

I love our flag. Our love the natural world. I hope to see both consistently treated with appropriate respect.

JMHO and some thoughts to consider.

Have a wonderful day!

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